Napoleon Bonaparte may have said "Water, air and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy," but this certainly isn't true for most people. Sneak a peek into the average medicine cabinet, and you'll find enough pills to keep a pharmacist employed for a month -- or so it seems. Becoming a pharmacist has many rewards, including a nifty salary and job security.
As of May 2011, the median annual wage for a pharmacist was $113,390, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is generally considered to be a good income for a professional who isn't required to deliver babies in the middle of the night. Pharmacists in the top 10 percent earn an average of $144,090 annually. With that kind of paycheck, you won't have to worry about whether you should purchase hamburger instead of the filet mignon at the supermarket.
Job Outlook and Security
If you decide to become a pharmacist, you'll be in a much better position than your cousin Dorothy, who bemoans her lack of employment along with her degree in sociology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment is expected to increase 25 percent from 2010 to 2020 -- a faster rate than average. Since there is no indication that illness will cease to be a problem in the future, you can expect people to continue frequenting pharmacies for the medications they need -- giving you a degree of job security that few enjoy.
Many people would rather call a pharmacist for facts about a drug than their doctor. You can expect to help to reassure a mother who is concerned about side-effects or to help a person to understand why they can't drink grapefruit juice with their medication. As a pharmacist, you'll not only fill prescriptions, but you will help customers learn how to take their medications safely and effectively. Some pharmacists use their knowledge to teach other people in the health care field about medication therapy.
New research and scientific knowledge means that pharmaceutical companies produce new drugs on a regular basis. As a pharmacist, you'll need to become familiar with the profile of each new drug and know how it interacts with existing medications. If you're interested in pharmacology, these continuing developments will keep you from feeling stagnant in your career. As a pharmacist, you'll be one of the first to hear about new medications that are being made available to the public.
2016 Salary Information for Pharmacists
Pharmacists earned a median annual salary of $122,230 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, pharmacists earned a 25th percentile salary of $109,400, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $138,920, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 312,500 people were employed in the U.S. as pharmacists.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.